Expositional commentary on Scripture using an inductive exegetical methodology intent upon confronting the lives of Christians with the dogmatic Truths of God's inspired Words opposing Calvinism and Arminianism, Biblical commentary, doctrine of grace enablement, understanding holiness and wisdom and selfishness, in-depth Bible studies, adult Bible Study books and Sunday School materials Dr. Lance T. Ketchum Line Upon Line: Patterns of Commonality or Patterns of Peculiarity

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Patterns of Commonality or Patterns of Peculiarity

1 But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: 2 That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. 3 The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; 4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. 6 Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. 7 In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, 8 Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you. 9 Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again; 10 Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things. 11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; 14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. 15 These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.” (Titus 2:1-15).


We live in the age of feel good Christianity. It is the day of the feel good Christians who want a feel good Church with a feel good preacher. The feel good Christian wants to hear “for God so love the world that He gave His only begotten Son” and that “whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” but they do not want to hear “he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” They want to hear “for the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,” but they do not want to hear that this comes with the responsibility that is “teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.”


The feel good preacher is the preacher that preaches what people want to hear while withholding from them the things they need to hear. We can easily distinguish the feel good preacher from faithful men of God, not by what he does preach about, but by what he does not preach about; not by what he says, but by what he does not say. This was the same phenomena of corruption that took place at the end of the Dispensation of the Law. God’s prophets and preachers/priests began to talk in language that did not offend or never spoke of God’s judgment. Although they were God’s appointed watchdogs over God’s sheep, God viewed them as “dumb dogs” and “greedy dogs” because they failed to preach the “whole counsel of God.”


9 All ye beasts of the field, come to devour, yea, all ye beasts in the forest. 10 His watchmen {the prophets and priests of God} are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. 11 Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter. 12 Come ye, say they, I will fetch wine, and we will fill ourselves with strong drink; and to morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant” (Isaiah 56:9-12).


Every practice and aspect of the Christian’s life ought to flow from “sound doctrine.” The construction of our translation of Titus 2:1 is somewhat ambiguous. It does not say we are to “speak . . . sound doctrine.” The phrase is “speak . . . things that become sound doctrine.” The confusion comes from our failure to understand the meaning of the Greek word prepo (prep'-o), which is translated “become” in Titus 2:1. The idea of this word is about making something to fit. Our speech/communication is to fit or illustrate “sound doctrine.” Then, Paul goes on to characterize how that is to be done by giving examples of how this speech is communicated. Notice, he is not merely talking about our speech as it comes forth in verbal communication. He is talking about our communication of “sound doctrine” by the way we live our lives. Paul puts before us three models of this communication of the communicable attributes of God, which then are to teach immature believers these same life styles that manifest “sound doctrine:


1. Aged men; vs. 2; “sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience”

2. Aged women; vs. 3-5; “in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed”

3. The incarnation of the eternal Son of God; vs. 12-14; “Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works


These Biblical models of the Christian maturity are to live, dress, walk, talk, and exemplify the communicable attributes of God in such a radical way that they “adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things” (vs. 10). Notice, it does not say in some things. Notice, it does not say in the things you think are important. What does this little Greek word pas (pas), translated “all things,” mean. “All things” means all, any, every, whatsoever, whosoever, thoroughly, completely, wholly, or without any exclusions. There should not be one single aspect of our lives and/or our mannerisms that we do not carefully consider regarding the message we are communicating about Christ.


Someone has rightly said, “We never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Although one of the most misunderstood and frequently quoted verses of Scripture might be “judge not, that ye be not judged” (Matthew 7:1), this statement by Christ is also the most frequently disobeyed. If we understand our own human natures, we will understand why it is such a difficult commandment. We live in a world filled with dangerous people. It is normal for us to evaluate them before we entrust to them the intimacy of a personal relationship. Until we can make an accurate and careful evaluation of a person’s character, we will naturally keep that person at a safe distance in any area of trust.


When we first meet people, or when see them for the first time, we naturally begin to formulate impressions and ideas about who they are and what kind of persons they are. We make our judgments based upon the way people dress, the way they comb their hair, the language they use in communication, the mannerisms they portray, and hundreds of other nuances that our psyche uses to evaluate a person’s character before we give that person the gift of trust. The vast majority of what a person says to us in our initial contact is nonverbal. We make a lot of evaluations of a person simply by their appearance. Many times the way a person dresses, wears his hair, or the way he portrays cultural nuances like tattoos, body piercings, or many other nuances tells us what this person thinks is important in life.


The mannerisms and cultural nuances we accept and portray reveal our social construct. A social construct is the cultural influences that we allow to shape our character and the influences that really lead us into making the vast majority of the decisions we make in life. For Bible believing Christians, our social construct should be purely Biblical and radically different than the world. True Christians should be truly peculiar people. We should look radically different than the rest of the world. We should talk radically different than the rest of the world. We should live radically different than the rest of the world. We should be radically preoccupied with different things than the rest of the world. The very first moment someone looks at us and our lives, they should be able to know that there is something radically different about us. When someone walks through the doors of our local church for the first time, that person ought to know he with people who love the Lord Jesus more than their own lives before anyone even utters a word to them.


Do not be confused here. Your communication begins long before you ever open your mouth to speak a word. The degree that we fail to portray a genuine, heartfelt peculiarity of Christ likeness in this communication is the degree it might be said that a Christian is worldly. The degree that we fail in this communication is the degree we pervert a Biblical social construct. Worldly cultures or worldly social constructs establish worldly standards. As Christians, we must be extremely careful to avoid the pressures of social sophistication (another phrase for adulteration of Biblical norms or for worldliness) by adopting cultural mores (customs, styles, fads that become cultural Laws). A cultural mores is what we must do to be accepted by the culture we live in. It is the opposite of being peculiar.


The things that make us peculiar are the things that keep Christians from becoming common. The word common as used in the Bible means the opposite of that which is holy. The word common is used to describe a person that is like everyone else, or has practices that are common to everyone. The word common is often used to communicate the idea of being profane or defiled before God. That is why Christians are commanded to be peculiar. There ought to be nothing common about us, except that which should be common to all Christians, i.e. PECULIARITY. Being peculiar will always require inconveniences and extended efforts to avoid commonality. Being with it should be viewed as a vulgarity in the peculiar Christian’s life.


The way we act and live in this world should be obviously peculiar. The music we listen to should be peculiar from the music the rest of the world listens to. The things that we preoccupy ourselves with and of which we find enjoyable should be normally and naturally peculiar from the things commonly practiced in society. The way we dress should be markedly peculiar from the way the world dresses. We should purposefully avoid following the fads that identify us with the social construct of a worldly culture.


Worldliness is not just defined by sinful practices. There are many ways to be worldly while not be involved in practices of moral turpitude. Worldliness begins with a desire to be accepted, followed by a willingness to conform to cultural mores in order to receive that acceptance. Worldliness is simply about identifying with the world in anyway that makes you common, rather than peculiar.


What does the woman who wants the world to desire her (she wants to be sexy or hot) really want according to God’s view? She wants to be common or worldly.


What does the teenager who wants to be cool really want according to God’s view? He wants to be common or worldly. This is all just another form of prostitution. This is a prostitution of your peculiarity in order to achieve cultural acceptance. The tragedy is that in getting cultural acceptance, you lose your peculiarity and become common in the eyes of God. This is the sin of Esau.


11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. 12 Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; 13 And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. 14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: 15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; 16 Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. 17 For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears” (Hebrews 12:11-17).


What was this horrible sin of Esau that resulted in God rejecting him? He prostituted his peculiarity for that which is common. He hungered for the things of this world and gave that desire a place above his desire for the things of God. What did Esau's prostitution of his peculiarity make him in the eyes of God? According to Hebrews 12:16, Esau became a “profane person” in the eyes of God. Do you think that following the fads and looking and living like the world are innocent things in the eyes of God? Do you think that the way you dress, the priorities you give to recreation and pleasure, or the priorities of your life on planet earth are inconsequential to God? Think again! These things defile your peculiarity and make you common/profane in the eyes of God.



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3 comments:

Gordon Jones said...

AMEN! Preach brother and I'll turn the pages!

Gordon Jones

PastorDBM said...

AMEN! You haven't lost your "peculiarity." Good Preaching!

David said...

Thank you for a good message, timely, and full of Scripture!
I have sent it along to a list of preacher friends who may not know of your ministry.
Sorry we did not get together when we were in Rochester this summer.

Dave Earnhart
Local Church Ministries
Escondido, CA